People with high levels of selenium in their bodies were found to have as much as a 24% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those with the lowest levels of the mineral, according to a new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers. However, the protective effects of selenium are not yet fully understood. Senior author Dariush Mozaffarian, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology, advises people to increase their selenium from a healthy diet rather than loading up on supplements.
Researchers examined the selenium levels found in toenail clippings submitted in the 1980s by more than 7,000 women and men participating in the long-term Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. This method can provide more accurate measurements than diet questionnaires, which rely on study participants’ memories. For both men and women, the researchers found the risk of developing diabetes was 24% lower among people with the highest levels of selenium in their toenails, compared to those with the lowest levels.
Mozaffarian does not recommend that people start taking selenium supplements based on these findings. There are different types of selenium, which may have different health effects. Better to consume the mineral through healthy foods that contain it, such as whole grains and fish, he said in a June 8, 2012 Reuters article.
The study appears in the June 2012 issue of Diabetes Care.
Component in common dairy foods may cut diabetes risk (HSPH release)